Actual Food — Ode to Sleep, Part I

Sustenance for The Spirit

Getting a really good night’s sleep, one from which you awaken feeling fully rested, seems to be a universal challenge. I recently listened to a portion of a book written on the subject of sleep, and the author relates at the beginning that the information so carefully written and expressed culminates twenty-five years of research. There are many books written and a great deal of research on this subject. Sleep has been discovered to encourage healing, memory, the immune system and a myriad of other health and body issues. It is something we long for, and yet the more we desire a good night’s sleep, the more evasive it seems to be. Worrying and wondering if tonight will be the night only discourages the good rest we need.

Sometimes we sabotage ourselves by staying tuned in to our televisions, phones, IPads, and other “screens” until it is much later than it should be to get a complete night’s rest. We’ve become addicted to movies, favorite television shows, work related projects, reading and research on varying subjects, both important and seemingly important. Our minds tend to have clutter piled on top of clutter as we enter the time of the day when we should be winding down. Then, there’s the emotions that get poked and prodded through online social interaction or story plots, keeping our brains in turmoil, just before setting the alarm to rise again “refreshed” in only a few hours. This may not describe you individually, but it seems to be mostly true of a lot of people these days, which explains why good sleep is such a moving target. It feels like our culture cultivates this lack of preparation for sleep, but evidently, this is not a brand new problem, isolated to our time and culture.

Even as far back as biblical times, there seems to be a connection between things like peace and safety, and getting good rest and sleep. We read in Psalm 4:8, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” There are a number of scriptures in Psalms and Proverbs which indicate that sleep is to be desired, and plays an important role in the life of a human. In fact, the next time you find yourself having trouble getting to sleep, you might try dusting off your concordance and doing a word search for the word “sleep” in the Bible. There’s quite a few references to search out, and you might find yourself following up with similar searches for “rest” and “peace.” One of my favorites is Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”

Another favorite is found in Psalm 121:3,4:

“He will not let your foot slip — -

He who watches over you will not slumber;

Indeed, He who watches over Israel

Will neither slumber or sleep.”

You’ve probably heard the saying that goes something like, “Leave your worries to God, He’s up anyway.” It paraphrases the previous passage from Psalms. We need only to let go of whatever it is that is keeping us up, and let God fret over it as we get our rest. I know it’s much easier said than done, but honestly, what are we accomplishing by wearing ourselves out over stuff that He has to deal with anyway, and often that we have little control over? I’m saying these words to myself of course, because we must repeat these things to ourselves to enact the peace and calm that is gifted to us from a compassionate God.

Everyone has their things that work for them, to help them sleep, whether it be chemicals, recorded oceans, herbal teas or perhaps a room darkening mask. And, if it helps, and works, I’m not saying throw it out. But, the root remedy of getting good sleep may rest (get the pun) in something we’re forgetting. Perhaps Jesus says it best:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28, 29

Have a great day…and a good night’s sleep!

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Xan Holub

A skeptical baby boomer, a Christian woman with a desire to share honest messages from a heart shaped in a life of stability, yet facing a world on the edge.